Thursday, February 22, 2024

Rail budget eyes polls: BJP, SP

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with the Samajwadi Party criticised the railway budget Friday, saying it was presented with an eye to the elections, but the ruling Congress insisted it was a developmental and pro-people package.
The BJP said the budget was unrealistic. “It is far from ground realities and close to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections reality,” BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told. “By reducing fares nominally, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad has tried to lure voters,” he added.
The Samajwadi Party, which is an ally of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre, struck a similar chord. Kamal Akhtar, Rajya Sabha member of the Samajwadi Party, said: “This rail budget has been presented with the election in view rather than the long-term welfare of the common man.”
The budget was presented by Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, whose Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) is an important constituent of the Congress-led UPA government. Not only did he cut fares by two percent, he also introduced 43 new trains.
“We welcome the rail budget. It’s a developmental and pro-people rail budget. For this the credit goes to the UPA government,” Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad told.
“Never in the past have fares been cut down continuously for five years and the Indian Railways made profits for five years,” said Ahmad. On the decline in freight due to the economic downturn, Ahmad said: “Though there has been a decline, compared to the international scenario the adverse effects of the economic slowdown in India and on our railways has been less. We hope to fight it back soon,” Ahmad said.
However, the Left parties were uncharitable.
D. Raja, national secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), told IANS: “There is nothing new in it. It is a budget prepared for the Lok Sabha. Every one has to go to the people. Nothing big has been announced except for the bullet train project between Delhi and Patna.”
P. Karunakaran, an MP of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) from Kerala, said this budget did not address the problems of many states like Kerala.
“The railways is a very big public sector unit, it is running into profit that is good. But, I feel this rail budget has not been able to do justice and address the problems of many states. Some states like Bihar get more benefits with such budgets, but some states are being neglected and this creates problems,” Karunakaran said. The budget highlighted that the railways will create a record surplus of Rs.900 billion (Rs.90,000 crore) this fiscal and that the sector saw a 14 percent rise in passenger income.
It also pointed out that in the past five years, no burden has been imposed on train passengers and that there has been a drop in train accidents, reflecting enhanced safety measures.

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